Emerald single punch loses two jobs
"ONE punch can kill" is a phrase plastered on billboards, television screens and in newspapers, but 37-year-old William Stowers must have missed it.
Stowers appeared in the Emerald Magistrates Court last week to plead guilty to assault occasioning bodily harm, after an act of violence at Clermont Coal Accommodation Village left a man hospitalised.
At 4am on December 7, Justin Smith, 38, sat down at the camp with other mine workers to have a drink.
The court heard the victim was "whinging".
He repeatedly told the others it was a "shit party".
When Stowers told Smith to simply leave, the situation became aggressive.
"The victim stood up aggressively and the defendant punched him in the face, he fell and hit his head on the concrete garden edging, rendering the victim unconscious," police prosecutor Sergeant Kevin Ongheen said.
Smith spent the night in hospital. On January 22, Stowers voluntarily went to police, where he admitted to assaulting Smith because he was "just being annoying and negative".
Both the victim and the defendant lost their jobs at the mine after the incident.
Magistrate Stuart Shearer was concerned the message of drunken violence still wasn't sinking in.
"People often end up dead from one punch," Mr Shearer said. "I recall one case in particular, a man was sentenced to seven years jail for manslaughter, in an almost an identical scenario to this one.
"This could have ended up far worse, if that had happened."
Stowers was sentenced to six months jail, wholly suspended for three years.
Emerald police Senior Sergeant Peter McFarlane said alcohol-fuelled violence would not be tolerated by police or in the courts.
"The Be Safe Program is going to kick off in the next couple of weeks and it is all about assaults and, in particular, alcohol-fuelled violence," he said.
"We have seen over recent times, particularly on the Sunshine Coast, where people have died from one punch."
Brisbane father Paul Stanley knows all too well the devastating blow a single punch can make.
He has been campaigning against youth and drunken violence since his 15-year-old son Matthew was bashed to death outside a teenage party in 2006.
Since Matthew's death, Mr Stanley has made it his mission to get the message out.
He has been using initiatives like One Punch Can Kill.
"When are people going to get the message that people can die from just one punch?" he said. "When are the courts going to take the scum, who carry out these violent acts, off our streets and make our streets safe for the rest of us?"